Kitakata, Fukushima, Japan.
Kitakata. Water from the mountains flows down across the rice fields and into the city, in open canals between the buildings. Despite the snow, the sun kept the canals from freezing over, and the sound of trickling water was everywhere.
Kitakata, rice fields. The explosion in the nuclear power plant have made people very aware of their use of energy. People turn the heat down indoors – the unbearably hot summer days will soon be here anyway.
On the east coast, near the destroyed nuclear plant, three hours is a maximum stay. People might not be able to move back for another 30 years. The vegetation in the area is remarkably ancient, with trees up to 1000 years old. Where the tsunami cleared away the forest, you can now see all the way to the sea.
Silk and cotton is still spun, dyed and woven in Kitakata. Freshly dyed "Japan Blue" cotton yarn is drying in a textile factory outside the neighbouring town of Aizu Wakamatzu.
In a textile workshop in Kitakata, one of the ladies explains how advanced Kimono patterns are made with complicated stencils and several layers of dye.
Mr. Watanabe, the owner of the joinery workshop where the kura was built, shows off one of his treasures.
The kura was part of an art project initiated by artist Yoshiko Maruyama, originally from Fukushima.
This is one of Maruyama's installations. The old kura where the exhibition was shown, was originally used as a storehouse for agricultural tools. Maruyama recreated that atmosphere with a new collection of old objects.
In the Sai-no-kami ceremony, heaps of straw and coloured paper objects are burned on a bonfire to secure good growth for next year's crops. Eventually the fire is used for a communal barbeque.
A traditional kura: heavy whitewashed walls gave a fireproof storehouse with stable inside conditions, suitable for storing food.
The new kura. The little building frame is dimensioned for three tatami mats. the walls are made from old sliding screens found in a loft, which were stripped of their paper. During the course of the exhibition, people filled the frames with slips of paper where they had written down their hopes for the future.
Tea ceremony. A representative of the Fukushima Museum was certified to host the ceremony – dress, implements and movements are all very important. Visitors entered in groups to be served. The theme of the ceremonies and the conversations was "the future of Fukushima".